Chemical Space Overlap with Critical Protein–Protein Interface Residues in Commercial and Specialized Small-Molecule Libraries

Yubing Si, David Xu, Khuchtumur Bum-Erdene, Mona K. Ghozayel, Baocheng Yang, Paul A. Clemons, Samy O. Meroueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


There is growing interest in the use of structure-based virtual screening to identify small molecules that inhibit challenging protein–protein interactions (PPIs). In this study, we investigated how effectively chemical library members docked at the PPI interface mimic the position of critical side-chain residues known as “hot spots”. Three compound collections were considered, a commercially available screening collection (ChemDiv), a collection of diversity-oriented synthesis (DOS) compounds that contains natural-product-like small molecules, and a library constructed using established reactions (the “screenable chemical universe based on intuitive data organization”, SCUBIDOO). Three different tight PPIs for which hot-spot residues have been identified were selected for analysis: uPAR⋅uPA, TEAD4⋅Yap1, and Ca V α⋅Ca V β. Analysis of library physicochemical properties was followed by docking to the PPI receptors. A pharmacophore method was used to measure overlap between small-molecule substituents and hot-spot side chains. Fragment-like conformationally restricted small molecules showed better hot-spot overlap for interfaces with well-defined pockets such as uPAR⋅uPA, whereas better overlap was observed for more complex DOS compounds in interfaces lacking a well-defined binding site such as TEAD4⋅Yap1. Virtual screening of conformationally restricted compounds targeting uPAR⋅uPA and TEAD4⋅Yap1 followed by experimental validation reinforce these findings, as the best hits were fragment-like and had few rotatable bonds for the former, while no hits were identified for the latter. Overall, such studies provide a framework for understanding PPIs in the context of additional chemical matter and new PPI definitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-131
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2019


  • compound libraries
  • computational chemistry
  • protein–protein interactions
  • virtual screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Organic Chemistry

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